Acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, and quinoa salad with pomegranate-shallot vinaigrette

As useful as gravlax is for brunch or Japanese noodle soup is for a quick lunch at home, this type of recipe is my bread and butter. It is plant based. It uses seasonal produce. (Those mealy winter grocery store tomatoes aren’t worth your time or mine, but just look at those pomegranate seeds shining like little jewels on top of that salad there.) It keeps well as leftovers. It is easily doubled to provide a full week’s worth of lunches or dinners. Speaking of lunches, it packs and transports well in my four-cup Pyrex. It is hearty but not heavy. Etc.

Everything works together in this salad. The seasoned acorn squash and (oh-so-crispy) Brussels sprouts sit atop a bed of quinoa. Pomegranate seeds brighten every bite. And a sweet-tart vinaigrette prevents the starch double-whammy of quinoa + squash from ever feeling heavy.

There are a few dishes and different processes here: roasting two types of veg, cooking the quinoa, seeding the pomegranate, making the dressing. But as written, this recipe will serve 6-7, so your work will pay dividends as you dig into this salad throughout the week.

Acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, and quinoa salad with pomegranate-shallot vinaigrette (serves 6-7)
Adapted for size and proportion from Jeanne Kelley’s Salad for Dinner

Ingredients
Vinaigrette
1/4 cup minced shallot
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern retailers and at many grocery stores)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups quinoa
1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, cut in half (north to south, as shown above)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/2-1 3/4pound) acorn squash, cut into 16 or so wedges
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup pepitas, toasted
seeds from 1 pomegranate or 1 (5.3-ounce) package of pomegranate seeds

Instructions
Vinaigrette
Whisk the shallot, oil, vinegar, pomegranate molasses, garlic, and salt to blend in a small bowl. (I do this in a mason jar for easy storage of leftovers.)

Salad
Bring the broth and the quinoa to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 10-15 minutes. Remove the quinoa from the heat and set aside.

Position one rack in the lower third and one rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450F.

Toss Brussels sprouts with 4 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Arrange the Brussels sprouts cut-side down in a single layer on a baking sheet. (You will feel silly arranging many Brussels sprouts cut-side down, but that’s what gets them nice and crispy, so don’t skip this step.)

Toss the squash with the remaining 2 tablespoon of olive oil, as well as the coriander, allspice, paprika and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in the same medium bowl. Arrange the squash in a single layer on the second prepared baking sheet. Roast the veg on separate racks until the Brussels sprouts are well browned on the bottom and tender when pierced with a sharp knife and the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir the toasted pepitas and a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette (enough to just moisten) into the quinoa. Dish out whatever quinoa you are going to eat now into a bowl or plate.

Spoon the Brussels sprouts over the quinoa, dividing evenly. Divide the squash wedges among the plates. Sprinkle the salads with the pomegranate seeds and drizzle with more dressing. Serve.

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